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Monday, September 22, 2014

Bringing the Grand Circuit to the Masses

Sunday's Grand Circuit race was the Prix d'Ete which was being contested at Hippodrome 3r.  Good luck for many harness racing fans to bet the race, or failing that, watch the race live.  Many ADWs in the United State doesn't take Hippodrome 3r races as the industry is still being resuscitated in the province.  Not exactly a high demand for their product in the states most days.

So what about watching the race?  If you are resourceful enough to find the Hippodrome's website and track it back to the Ontario Jockey Club site there is a place to watch races live or in replay mode.  Failing that you put your arms up in frustration and move on to something else.

The problem is clear.  Due to contracts and other business decisions, not all ADWs are able or willing to carry all tracks racing.  While specifying races 'Grand Circuit' events may be good for on-track attendance and wagering, what good is it for off-track customers if they are unable to wager on a race or if so inclined to watch the race, need to hunt down a signal they can watch or need to wait for a story about the race and hope there is a video link tied to it?

If the Grand Circuit is truly dedicated to providing fans the opportunity to see the nation's best horses race in these events, clearly it is failing as the races are currently presented.  The question is how can the Grand Circuit present these races to the public in the most advantageous manner?  Especially as the industry is attempting to gain interest through social media?

Ideally, the racetracks holding Grand Circuit races would enter into a contract granting the Grand Circuit the right to bundle these races into a single package which can be sold to ADWs.  The ADWs would be able to get access to these races regardless of what ADW(s) have the right to the complete race card.  Of course, there may be some renegotiation necessary with ADWs to give up any exclusive rights they may have to Grand Circuit races.

Failing that, the Grand Circuit or industry should develop a Grand Circuit online channel where fans can watch the Grand Circuit races live regardless of which track is hosting the event.  The channel would not only include the race, but any live programming from the tracks surrounding the event (i.e., pre-race analysis and post-race interviews).

If all else fails, the Grand Circuit should establish its own channel on a video site such as YouTube where Grand Circuit races will be posted as soon as possible after the races completion.  Using social media, it can be made known that the races have been posted to the site for viewing.  By having a channel, the Grand Circuit may also decide to post important foreign races (and enter into an exchange agreement where other nation's racing authorities can use races posted on the Grand Circuit channel).  Races won't be seen live but at least it would make it easy for fans to know where to find the races without hunting and pecking.

Any of the above methods are better than the current method of fans hunting for the races or giving up, having these races raced for all practical purposes in isolation.

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